'Culture' is a key concept in the social sciences. It also figures prominently in health science discourses. Yet, it is an imprecise and politically charged term. Due to a variety of factors, health care professionals may tend to use notions of culture that can be easily applied. Dangers are posed when using simplified culture concepts, however, because they act as 'interpretive lenses' - lenses that may generate cultural stereotypes, lead health professionals to miss key interactions and processes in the provision of care, and simplify the cultural complexities surrounding the position(s) of both the health care providers and their clients. Two cases of eldercare are analysed to demonstrate the multi-layered intricacies of the concept of culture. The overall point is that 'culture' is a highly complex and dynamic term; the way in which it is conceptualized and used has enormous consequences for health care.